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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

THE    DANGERS    OF    HISTORY

for it was a story that comprised federation, parliament,
autonomous cities, Protestantism, and a law of liberty
carried by German colonists to the Slavonic east. In
those days it was the Latin States which were considered
to be congenial to authoritarianism, clinging to tfie
Papacy in Italy, the Inquisition in Spain and the Bona-
partist dictatorships in militaristic France. The reversal
of this view in the twentieth century, and its replacement
by a common opinion that Germany had been the
aggressor and the enemy of freedom throughout all the
ages, will no doubt be the subject of historical research
itself some day, especially as it seems to have coincided
so closely with^a change in British foreign policy. The
historian, then, can even deepen and magnify present-
day prejudices by the mere fact that he so easily tends to
throw them back and project them on to the canvas of
all the centuries. And the more the historian se;eks to
please his generation or serve his government or support
any cause save that of truth, the more he tends to con-
firm his contemporaries in whatever they happen to
want to believe, the more he hardens the age in its
favourite and fashionable errors.

Before 1919 I was taught a kind of history which saw
in the sovereignty of national states the culinination of
the progress of centuries—the very end towards which
history was moving. I remember how the Reformation
itself would be applauded for having released the
nation-states from " the fetters of internationalism";
and it was the custom to show that history, especially in
the nineteenth century (the "Holy Alliance"y for
example), had demonstrated the folly and futility of

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